Image: People injured in stampede.
People attend to stampede victims at a temple in Jodhpur, India, on Tuesday.
updated 10/1/2008 11:40:50 AM ET 2008-10-01T15:40:50

A Hindu temple official blamed an unruly group of pilgrims trying to get ahead in a line of worshippers for a stampede that killed more than 200 people and injured nearly 60 in western India.

Authorities were still working to determine the final death toll, but the number had already crossed 200, said senior police official Rajeev Dosat.

The disaster occurred just as the doors of the temple were being opened for worship at dawn for more than 12,000 people celebrating a key Hindu festival in the historic city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan state.

A group of 200 pilgrims jostled with the crowd and tried to move ahead of others, causing some people to slip down the narrow 1.35-mile path leading to the temple, said Mahendra Singh Nagar, who heads a private trust that oversees the temple's operations.

False rumors of a bomb that spread during the stampede only added to the chaos, worshippers said.

Tensions are high because India has been hit by a spate of recent bomb attacks. The latest explosions killed six people and wounded 45 others Monday night in the western cities of Malegaon and Modasa.

Temple floors were also slick with coconut milk as thousands of devotees broke coconuts as religious offerings, causing pilgrims to slip and fall as they scrambled to escape, Nagar said.

Television footage showed dozens of bodies on a sidewalk. Nearby, frantic people tried to revive unconscious devotees through resuscitation efforts or by slapping their faces.

Jodhpur is some 180 miles southwest of Rajasthan's capital, Jaipur.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Deadly stampede at Hindu temple


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